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Sensors 2017, 17(3), 493; doi:10.3390/s17030493

A Cubesat Payload for Exoplanet Detection

1
Department of Industrial Engineering—Aerospace Division, University of Naples Federico II, 80125 Naples, Italy
2
INAF—Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Florence, Italy
3
INAF—Astrophysical Observatory of Capodimonte, Salita Moiariello, 16, 80131 Naples, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Caterina Ciminelli
Received: 5 January 2017 / Revised: 18 February 2017 / Accepted: 23 February 2017 / Published: 2 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1569 KB, uploaded 3 March 2017]   |  

Abstract

The search for undiscovered planets outside the solar system is a scientific topic that is rapidly spreading into the astrophysical and engineering communities. In this framework, the design of an innovative payload to detect exoplanets from a nano-sized space platform, like a 3U cubesat, is presented. The selected detection method is photometric transit, and the payload aims to detect flux decrements down to ~0.01% with a precision of 12 ppm. The payload design is also aimed at false positive recognition. The solution consists of a four-facets pyramid on the top of the payload, to allow for measurement redundancy and low-resolution spectral dispersion of the star images. The innovative concept is the use of a small and cheap platform for a relevant astronomical mission. The faintest observable target star has V-magnitude equal to 3.38. Despite missions aimed at ultra-precise photometry from microsatellites (e.g., MOST, BRITE), the transit of exoplanets orbiting very bright stars has not yet been surveyed photometrically from space, since any observation from a small/medium sized (30 cm optical aperture) telescope would saturate the detector. This cubesat mission can provide these missing measurements. This work is set up as a demonstrative project to verify the feasibility of the payload concept. View Full-Text
Keywords: exoplanets; cubesat; photometric transit; photometry; pyramid; false positive exoplanets; cubesat; photometric transit; photometry; pyramid; false positive
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MDPI and ACS Style

Iuzzolino, M.; Accardo, D.; Rufino, G.; Oliva, E.; Tozzi, A.; Schipani, P. A Cubesat Payload for Exoplanet Detection. Sensors 2017, 17, 493.

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